I told you I would mention my observations after the Elite Producer Business Conference. (Thanks, JR)
In no particular order. [Hey - your mind will work this way too someday.]
- The pressure on California dairies is intense. Water may be the biggest threat, but producers are really nervous about immigration issues.
- Cheese consumption is exploding. Although it wasn't mentioned it is also being noticed by obesity experts. There is a lot of fat in cheese.
- Food retail at all levels are cutting the number of items (SKUs) pretty sharply. We may only have 48 kinds of corn flakes.
- Traditional supermarkets (e.g. Kroger) continue to lose ground to supercenters and discount clubs. The concentrates buying power even more intensely into fewer hands.
- Dairy at retail is the most profitable sector in the supermarket, but frequently is constrained by its floor space due to being crammed onto outside walls. More retail info here.
- Yogurt is the dairy product of the near future.
- Every speaker I heard had a remark about "biofuel" policy. Not a happy comment either.
- Regional banks are looking for the exit on large dairies, according to some. Where that capital will be replaced is a big question.
- I talked to one 500-cow guy who is seriously considering shrinking back to just his very profitable breeding business.
- A presentation by the Ohio animal welfare coalition left many producers glad their state doesn't have initiative power for voters. Many producers are already getting ready to comply with stricter handling rules.
- Dairy is the poster child for the productivity curse. From breeding technology likes sexed semen to robomilkers, every advancement makes overproduction just a little easier.
- Policy outlook seemed to be "something's gotta change". Frankly my eyes glazed over during the pricing support discussions. They were pretty realistic about maybe less aid would actually be less distortionary.
If I remember anything else, I'll update this post.